WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Ed Cooley of the Providence Friars reacts to a call during a college basketball game against the Georgetown Hoyas on December 31, 2011 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC The Hoyas wpn 49-40.. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Don't give them easy baskets. Make 10 to 12 threes. Keep them out of transition. Attack the zone from the inside out.
According to the experts, that's how you beat the No. 1 Syracuse Orange. And you can bet the Providence Friars are going to try and do all of that, or at least some of it, when they host the Orange tonight at The Dunk.
The Friars come into the game 11-4 and 0-2 in the Big East. They don't boast too many terribly-impressive wins (BC, South Carolina) and they've lost to all the quality teams they've played (Georgetown, Iowa St., Northern Iowa). They also got blown out by a St. John's team that, if I'm not mistaken, only has two guys on its roster. They have lost nine of their last 10 Big East games.
All that said, Providence is no stranger to beating quality opponents, especially a home. Last year they hosted four ranked Big East opponents, winning twice and losing the other two by a combined five points. And the last time they played a No. 1, they beat them (Pittsburgh, 2009).
The name of the game for the Friars will be defense. SU averaged nearly 90 points per game in the last four meetings between the schools and this year's squad can put the clamp down defensively themselves, so it's paramount Providence shuts down this potent Orange offense.
Last year, Providence was dead last in the 16-team Big East in scoring defense. The Friars allowed 79.9 points per game. PC sat 15th (only DePaul was worse) in field goal percentage defense. Conference teams shot .475 against the Friars last year.
This season, the Friars are fifth in the league in field goal percentage defense (.383) and 10th in the league in scoring defense (63.9 ppg).
Who do we need to be on the lookout for? Gerard Coleman, the 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, averages 15.3 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. There is also guards Vincent Council (16.1 PPG) and Bryce Cotton (14.5 PPG), but Coleman is the only one of the three to score more than 11 points in a Big East game so far this season. Last year, Coleman and Council combined for 22 points against Syracuse.
Cotton is the longball threat. He's shooting 40% on the year from downtown, though he only averages five attempts her game.
However, since Syracuse fans live in fear of the "nondescript white guy who comes out of nowhere to make nine three-pointers against us," make sure you're aware of Chris Carter.
The Orange have won the last three meetings and leads the overall series 44-10, which is just nasty. The Friars last beat us in 2009.